Battered Colorado preps for Big 12 home opener against Kansas

Updated: October 7, 2003, 1:11 PM ET

BOULDER, Colo. -- Fifth-year cornerback Phil Jackson doesn't mince words when he talks about Colorado, losers of three straight games.

The team is "a disgrace right now to anybody that's worn a Buffaloes helmet," Jackson said Monday.

Heading into its Big 12 Conference home opener Saturday against surprising Kansas (4-1), Colorado (2-3) has given up more than 40 points in the last three games. Losses to Washington State and Florida State are one thing; last week's loss to lowly Baylor was a stunner.

"I think this is a time in which everybody in our program needs to encourage one another and make sure we're saying the right things to one another" coach Gary Barnett said.

Offensive tackle Sam Wilder agreed, saying: "We can't start letting things separate us."

Jackson said relationships have not deteriorated to the point they did during Colorado's 3-8 season in 2000.

"The coaches, they're down. The players are down," he said. "The worst thing we could do right now is point fingers."

Barnett suggested the Buffaloes could use more leadership.

"Most guys want to lead by example," he said. "That's OK to a point, but you need to have vocal leaders. There's somebody who has to go beyond leading by example. ... Leaders can't worry about being liked. They just have to worry about being respected."

Barnett said the expected return of quarterback Joel Klatt to the lineup full-time should help. Klatt has missed much of the three losses because of a separated shoulder, but had a full practice Monday.

The Buffaloes won't get a break from Kansas. Quarterback Bill Whittemore is ranked seventh nationally and has been intercepted just twice while throwing for 10 touchdowns.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index